Truth be told, we’re kind of fans of Mixedbag here at Infinite Frontiers. We loved Futuridium on Vita, so when we saw they were bringing their mellowed-out metroidvania title “forma.8” over from iOS to Switch, I was intrigued. Would it work on a console? Would it feel like a real Switch game? And quite simply, and more importantly, would I like it? Let’s find out.
As the exploratory probe forma.8, you crash-land in a beautiful, but somewhat hostile, planet, which you must explore to find what remains of your crew and finally, reach an energy source before it’s too late. I say all of this based on the press buff and my experience with the game, though, as there’s not an inkling of a tutorial or instructions anywhere to be found.
I personally like this: I don’t want games handholding me throughout, but I also don’t want them to be unnecessarily obtuse. I found forma.8 to be just right in that respect: just secretive enough to motivate you to explore, if a bit conducive to getting you lost from time to time. It has to be said, though, that the game assumes a certain level of video game literacy, and (as I was able to confirm when handing over controls to my fiancee), it may be more difficult for non-gamers to pick up the game and enjoy it from the get-go. They might find the lack of instructions disconcerting and frustrating.
I found the game balanced, as I said, so I didn’t have this problem. I also loved, loved, loved the art. The low-poly world presented by Mixedbag is haunting, beautiful and absolutely huge in certain parts. I was not expecting that, and I was happily surprised when coming out of crevices I found myself zooming out into a vast expanse, colorful and full of life.
Controls are simple enough, as you move along without gravity using the left analog stick as per usual. You gain power-ups as you find your shipmates, which are then used to solve puzzles and move the game, and story, along. I like that they put the first power-up quite early on in the game. This is a perfect way of instructing players in the fact that power-ups will be a thing. It also automatically encourages players to explore every nook and cranny in search of more goodies.
I think “forma.8” is a good example of a change in paradigms in the gaming industry: it shows that good games are good, regardless of the platform in which they originate; it shows that independent development is evolving and growing well beyond the usual US and British markets; and it shows that there’s still life in the metroidvania genre, there’s still room to grow, to improve, to enjoy.
In the end, though, I think what “forma.8” does best, despite some minor annoyances at getting lost and losing non-gamers to the lack of instructions, is that Mixedbag are great at crafting new spins on well-established genres. And really, it’s just a really good, really fun, really relaxing little game. I like it, and if you’ve read me blabber on about it until now, I’m sure you will, too.